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8yr old DS being incredibly devious- how concerned should we be?

(25 Posts)
ElizaPickford Mon 12-Jan-15 08:41:03

My mum bought my son a Kindle Fire for Christmas (he's been banging on about wanting one for months but I had no plans to get him one.)

I've used the settings to restrict his ability to access the internet and and anything else that might cause trouble, but the other day he was talking about email so I taught him how to use it so that he can email his friends. I have a rule that Kindles do not go upstairs at night but that night I must have been a bit slack on checking; when I woke up the next morning I had an email from DS that appeared to have come in at 4am. On checking it turns out that he'd sent a number of emails to a friend (almost hourly) from 10pm - 4am. This was my own fault for not checking he had left it downstairs (and yet he knows that he's not allowed to have it in bed) and I could have written it off as a kid pushing his luck, but when I gave him the chance to tell me the truth he repeatedly lied. As a result, mainly of the lying, he was banned from using his Kindle for a week.

On Saturday the kids went to my mum's for the night, and when they came back my mum told me that he had taken his Kindle to her house (hidden in his coat where it "fell" ) and he was refusing to take his coat off and sneaking off to the loo, as it transpired to use his Kindle. She asked him straight up why he was acting so suspiciously and he confessed and asked if it could be "their secret."

My mum told me this, and afterwards we had a chat with DS and asked him how the Kindle got to my mum's and for him to tell us the truth. Yet again he told an astounding set of lies (it fell in his coat, his younger brother set him up etc.) so we've taken his Kindle and told him that he can't have one any more. (With a view to him earning it back if he starts to behave better.)

When we told him this yesterday he didn't react at the time at all, but apparently has been hatching a plot to steal and damage mine if he doesn't get his back. Then this morning it turns out that yesterday afternoon and evening he took the ladders off his brother's bunk bed, took them to our room and climbed up to the top shelf of our wardrobe to see if his Kindle is hidden there.

I'm so disappointed and I don't know where we go next! I just can't believe that he would have the nerve to take ladders to our room(!) and I'm really worried that he's showing this totally devious and disrespectful behaviour. And he's only 8!

Is this normal behaviour? As a result of ladder-gate I've banned him from watching tv for a week now in addition to losing his Kindle. Is this fair, or too harsh? Should I be concerned about his total lack of regard for what we say to him? Is this behaviour indicative of us failing as parents and raising a potential candidate for Borstal? sad

Makeup822 Mon 12-Jan-15 09:00:13

I would be very concerned, as if this is the way he behaves when something does not suit him. How will you be able to trust him as he grows older? You need to have a discussion about trust and openess. Ask him why he is so desperate to have his Kindle with him at all times? You need to see and know how and what he is looking at on the Kindle. Does he use it for reading? Whatb other apps has he got on there?

Personally I think its a really good idea to stop Kindles going upastairs means they can get a decent nights sleep. Maybe you have a regular place for them downstairs so you can seevat a glance if its not there?

ElizaPickford Mon 12-Jan-15 09:09:53

He's completely obsessed with computer games, and this is why he wanted a Kindle of his own so that he could play Angry Birds, Minecraft etc. Before this he had a DS and I've always been quite strict in rationing the amount of time they can spend on games/apps because he can't bloody think about anything else.

The settings on his Kindle are tight, he can't access the internet, can't download any apps without me putting in a password, I don't let him read on it and he can't now email because I've blocked that as well.

I'm very cross with him, but I'm also worried about his total disregard for the boundaries he's been set. Also I can't help but wonder what the hell he is going to do next! sad

sanfairyanne Mon 12-Jan-15 09:20:52

gosh, where to start?
are you quite strict generally with perhaps big dramatic punishments? just wondering because of you getting stressed or het up about this, or wondering what he was going to get up to next, devious, etc
yes, it is not acceptable, yes it will have a consequence, then no more reaction or worry about his future life as a master criminal, and life moves on
a week long punishment at 8 - what will it be when he is 16?

ElizaPickford Mon 12-Jan-15 09:29:26

When it comes to computer games/internet access then yes, I am strict, because he's only 8 and I don't think 8 year olds should have free access to the internet or unlimited game time.

Is banning him for a week a big dramatic punishment?

Perhaps I was over-exaggerating in my last paragraph, but I am worried because it seems I tell him off for one thing and he then goes and does something else in response, and I know that if I'd have been told not to do something at that age I'd have kept my head down and waited for the dust to settle, not go and do something else because my feet wouldn't have touched the floor if I'd behaved like that...

NickiFury Mon 12-Jan-15 09:34:29

I agree with sanfairyanne, you sound completely OTT to he honest. No wonder he feels desperate and as though he's got nothing to lose. My children get a morning or afternoon banning from devices and it's more than enough. Kindles or iPads would not be left with them overnight so no chance of usage at 4 in the morning.

He's not being "incredibly devious" either he feels hopeless and is just going for whatever he can because your punishments are too severe.

Fwiw I have never restricted access to devices and my children seem to self regulate because there's no "treat" status attached to it. I understand that this will not work for all children though. Different personalities etc.

Sleepytea Mon 12-Jan-15 09:41:22

I think his response to your punishment is quite normal. In his eyes he committed a small misdemeanour and ended up with a severe punishment. I have discovered that smaller punishments work better. So maybe the first time I would have removed his email access until he could show me he was more responsible (and given a lecture about bedtime/sleep etc). Stealing the kindle from under your nose would have led to a huge lecture on trust/responsibility and maybe an overnight ban with limited access afterwards.
I find that my child gets more upset when he doesn't understand the limits. Now I find it easier to give 45 minutes usage of consoles a day. I tend to relax it during holidays but then find we have huge tantrums when I reinforce it again.

CatsClaus Mon 12-Jan-15 09:48:46

I think the mistake you made was to let him have the kindle when you already know he is obsessed with the games.....it does so much more and you are really just setting him up to fail
And if you feel an eight year old should be restricted internet wise, then there's really no need for an all singing and dancing bit of kit. You need to give it back to your mother.

I'd be a bit concerned about his plans to damage your kindle though, that does seem quite spiteful...I'd make it quite clear to him that any mishap to anything not belong to him will merit very serious consequences.

the first banning seems a little OTT considering it was your fault he had it in his room, I'd also say you seem to be asking for explanations and entering into negotiations...I'd knock that on the head.

Recite the rules and confiscate it in future, asking for reasons just gives them more wiggle room and a chance to feel hard done by.

sanfairyanne Mon 12-Jan-15 09:57:34

honestly though - what will you do at 16 if your punishments now stretch across a whole week?
this is your own doing. you have, as another poster said,set him up to fail
dont attach emotion to this issue. if he is too young to cope, then remove the kindle but not as a punishment but because he is too young
set clear rules on use (30 mins a day, within certain times) with clear and simple consequences eg a time out, a reduction in hours the next day, a day ban)
stop being a drama llama over his devious behaviour

Viviennemary Mon 12-Jan-15 10:04:49

He's been given the kindle and now rules are in place governing it's use which he obviously doesn't see is fair. I think it would have been better for him not to have had the Kindle in the first place. Take it away and say it was a mistake to give him one. I think those rules like 30 minutes a day never work.

DropYourSword Mon 12-Jan-15 10:04:50

And if you feel an eight year old should be restricted internet wise, then there's really no need for an all singing and dancing bit of kit. You need to give it back to your mother.

I don't think it's fair to give it back to her mother. It was a present that was given to Elizas son. It's not fair to remove it/take it off him.

I also think your punishments far outweigh the crime and aren't really in relation to what he's done. If he's been online when he shouldn't it's makes more sense to me that you should remove wifi access - change the password. Let the outcome/punishment tackle the issue you have. Removing TV access for example doesn't do this, it's just a punishment for punishments sake. If you are upset he's been lying to you, let him know that means you can't trust him in future until he proves otherwise.

sanfairyanne Mon 12-Jan-15 10:12:07

in truth, i dont apply limits as such either, just thought it might suit the op more.

ElizaPickford Mon 12-Jan-15 10:25:03

Thanks for all the feedback.

I get that taking it off him as a punishment until further notice might have been a bit much, then. But I was just so shocked that he would literally smuggle his Kindle to my mum's, and then go and hide in the toilet with his coat in order to play on it!

It is a difficult situation; DH is quite pissed off that they got Kindles, but the first we knew of it was on Christmas Day when they both opened their presents at my mum's and got something they'd both been desperately wanting. I challenge anyone to tell me that you would have stepped in then and there, and taken their presents from them on Christmas day. They absolutely don't need a Kindle Fire as they are literally just using them for the apps, but it seems fairer to impose limits.

And my children DO need time limits imposing, because without them they will play for hours and hours, literally on end. They won't play out, they won't play with toys, they won't do anything else unless we impose limits and I'm confident that it's the right thing to do with my children.

And I do find it shocking that DS was in my room at 10pm last night, on ladders taken from his brother's bunk beds, rummaging on a shelf that is 8 feet up, and god knows where else (in our bedside cabinets? under our bed?) because not only is that very naughty behaviour in my book, it's also an invasion of mine and DH's privacy that I do not think is acceptable.

I don't think I'm being a "drama llama", it's actually quite upset me.

Kewcumber Mon 12-Jan-15 10:25:33

I'm surprised others think you are being a "drama llama" - I would be doing exactly the same in your position.

DS (now 9) had an ipad mini for Xmas when he was 8. He hasn't asked for an email address but is also obsessed with Minecraft and FIFA so we have time limites which are different on school days, weekends and holidays.

DS has always reacted well (though sheepishly) to being told off for breaching any rules. Playing when he's supposed to be getting ready for school etc. I too would be very concerned if his reaction to his punishment was to plot to destroy my tablet!

But then my 8 year old was quite mature and well capable of understanding rules and boundaries and that lying so blatently would only make things worse. And it took 6 months of moderate usage before he started getting hooked and devious so if your DS is there already after less than a month I would seriously be nipping it in the bud.

Fwiw I have never restricted access to devices and my children seem to self regulate because there's no "treat" status attached to it. I understand that this will not work for all children though I used to think this NickiFury, DS never had limits and he would eventually get bored and go and play outside but as he has got older this changed and he would quite happily spend 4 hours glued to his ipad. Even he agrees that he gets cross and tetchy if he spends too much time on it and so has reacted well to clear boundaries.

I think you need to keep talking to him OP, make it clear that you are worried if not playing on his Kindle makes him this devious then maybe it would be better for him to find something else to do for a while as it isn't very nice behaviour. I also find being rather passive aggressive with DS and saying something like "well if you're too young to understand why this is a problem maybe you're too young to be allowed your own Kindle". Let him earn back TV time by doing things that you want him to.

sanfairyanne Mon 12-Jan-15 10:29:45

its not acceptable behaviour, no, bit its a new, highly disapproved of by his parents therefore more highly valued, toy. just remove the emotion, deal out an appropriate punishment, move on.

fatbottomgirl67 Mon 12-Jan-15 10:42:15

I'm in the exact same boat. Bought ds a kindle fire as he is dyslexic and really loves graphic novels . Great we thought be able to download loads and help his reading . Then we made the huge mistake of letting him have bloody mine craft. He is so addicted .he has gone from being an out door boy to being glued to kindle. We seriously restrict all access but he will search it out and hide in cupboards if necessary to play on it. Got to the stage where I threatened to distroy it with a hammer if he didn't stop. Playing times are seriously restricted but it is hard to be on the ball with what he's up to all the time when you have other kids to look after. It's definitely a boy thing as my dd's can take it or leave it.

NickiFury Mon 12-Jan-15 10:42:59

He's 8. He doesn't yet understand about invasion of privacy etc. he just wants his kindle. So I don't think he should be punished for that. It's an opportunity to discuss privacy.

I think it's teething troubles and huge over excitement at getting his dream present and handled well could be a good way to teach responsibility with devices etc. I also don't think it should be handed back to his grandmother, it's his. He needs help to use it responsibly though, because he is only 8.

steppeinginto2015 Mon 12-Jan-15 10:48:07

my ds does not self regulate.

If we let him, he would spend all day on his phone/computer etc. He has always been like this. And yes we have tried it.
My dds on the other hand get bored and give up.

I have firm time boundaries, if you break them the device is gone. We do it for 24 hours, and then start again.

ds was just like your ds over somethings, he loves to read at bedtime, after lights out he would use all sorts of things to read on. In the end we got into the habit of taking his book when we turned his light out, so he started to swap books when he heard us coming up the stairs to trick us so that he could keep reading his book. We took the book down stairs and he sneaked down and pinched it at 10 pm so that he could get it back and keep reading.

So I don't think the slightly obsessive nature of him wanting to get the kindle back is that unusual. With ds and books, I could totally understand it, as I too have that 'must read the next chapter' feeling about books. We keep low key and persist. It is harder for me to understand when it comes to technology because I don't have the same draw to it.

girliefriend Mon 12-Jan-15 10:57:11

He does sound quite devious, on some level I would be impressed at how well thought out some of these plans are grin

I would say fairly normally testing the boundaries behaviour for 8yo boys. I have an 8yo girl and am being a very cruel mum by not letting her have any unsupervised access to the internet at all shock likewise I would not be happy if someone bought her a tablet or kindle as I don't want her to have one yet.

Have you read this book ? I found it really helpful when trying to relate to dd.

CatsClaus Mon 12-Jan-15 11:13:44

well it's a lesson to find out from your mum what she is getting and to advise as you see fit....it's really no good giving her free rein and then quibbling. And surely she might have thought that as such a desirable present you may have been getting them one anyway, who lashes out all that money without checking first?

and as far as it being HIS present and it being unfair to remove it....if it is judged as inappropriate then it goes.

I'm all for limits on screentime but you have to be consistent, same with rules and punishments.

How did you find out and miss all his search and destroy shennanigans?

Kewcumber Mon 12-Jan-15 11:18:24

I do agree with Nicky about the privacy thing - even my 9 year old doesn't totally understand the privacy thing - at least not as it applies to me!

Primaryteach87 Mon 12-Jan-15 11:20:48

Fwiw I don't think the punishment was too severe at all. It's about the breach of trust and lying more than the initial breaking of the rules. You can't accept that in any relationship and it's good for him to learn that now.

PurpleStripedSock Mon 12-Jan-15 11:33:09

OP that is a tough one! I just bought myself a Kindle Paperwhite because I couldn't be trusted to just read books on it if it had internet capabilities and I'm 42!!!

I'd be so angry with Grandma if I were you (I imagine you both must be).

I don't have an 8 year old and share your distress at the seriously devious sounding behaviour he's exhibited but by the sound of the other posters... maybe that's fairly standard stuff for the age group? I vaguely remember trying it on and being a bit sneaky but I would have been scared to have the front that your son had to sneak off to Grandmas with it.

Good luck.

Whereisegg Mon 12-Jan-15 14:32:47

I don't think you were too heavy handed, but I think you need to explain to ds that he can earn his kindle and your trust back.

This is the time to set new boundaries regarding time spent on it too I think, so for example he needs to have a good week getting ready for school/doing homework/his jobs without complaint = kindle back (or whatever you need from him).
When he gets it back he gets x-amount of time on a school day but only after homework/dinner/whatever.
X amount of time on weekends after <whatever> has been done.
Let him know you will be checking every evening that it is downstairs.

ElizaPickford Mon 12-Jan-15 15:46:23

Ach - this is a thing my mum does, she will never ever check in re what she's planning to buy, which leads to all sorts of mayhem and duplication but that's another thread... hmm

I think a calm and rational chat about Kindle use and boundaries is in order for both when they get home...

PurpleStripedSock I'm with you on that - I've got a really basic old Kindle for reading on and a Fire for everything else because I don't want to be distracted by anything else when I'm reading! Plus I think the Fire is horrible to read on, especially after sitting behind a screen all day for work.

steppeinginto2015 and girliefriend I was secretly impressed with his tenacity, I suppose, and it reminded me of when he was about 18 months old and would make towers out of cuddly toys to climb up (and once even moved his bed across the room) so that he could turn the light on, which sounds similar in cunning to your DS steppe grin

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